Following a public consultation earlier this year, the project will see new entrance charges introduced for non-Leeds residents visiting the abbey ruins, helping to generate crucial income to conserve the 870-year-old site and fund events including seasonal tours and trails.
From this week an admission charge of £5 will be payable for adults visiting from outside the city, with a charge of £2.50 for accompanying children and under 5s being free to enter.
Entry to the abbey ruins will remain free for Leeds residents and people who live in Leeds City Council tax postcode areas. Fees will apply to the ruins only, and access to the abbey grounds will remain free for all visitors.
As part of the enhanced activity programme, a brand new Tales of Kirkstall Abbey audio trail, accessed by scanning QR codes dotted around the ruins, will give visitors a chance to be guided around the site by curators and staff from Leeds Museums and Galleries.
As well as exploring the history of the abbey, it will also give a fascinating insight into the lives of the monks who lived and worked at Kirkstall for almost 400 years. The additional income will also help fund new seasonal events, tours, and activities so more people will have a chance to take part and enjoy the abbey.
Coun Jonathan Pryor, said: “Kirkstall Abbey has been a unique and treasured part of the city’s heritage for centuries, but as well as celebrating its history, we want to make sure we’re looking towards its future too, developing ideas to make it an even more attractive, sustainable and inspiring place to visit.
“The harsh reality is that the financial situation we find ourselves in as a council means that to do that, we’ll have to identify innovative and creative ways to generate the money needed to bring those ideas to life and protect and conserve the abbey.
“Any decisions about introducing charges are never easy, and we have consulted broadly with the public both in and out of Leeds, using their views to help us shape our plans for site. We believe this project strikes the right balance between generating much-needed income and ensuring the abbey remains a visitor attraction the people of Leeds can be proud of for generations to come.”
As part of the new entry requirements, paying visitors coming from outside Leeds will be provided with an annual pass which will allow entry to the abbey for 12 months from purchase. The annual pass will also include entry to some events and volunteer-led tours.
Leeds residents will need to bring proof of address for free entry on their first visit; a driving license or recent utility bill will be accepted. They will also be issued with an annual pass, and will not need to bring proof of address again.